Chat With a Mormon Online
I am the oldest of four, and an uncle to the most adorable nephew and nieces in the world. I grew up in a small city in central California--small by California standards, anyway--and attended a university in but not OF Utah where I earned two degrees in physics, and now live in southern Nevada where I am an adjunct professor at a community college. I enjoy reading spy thriller novels, baking, spending time with friends, taking leisurely walks in the cool of evening, and keeping up with news and world events.
I was raised in the Church and have come to believe, even know, that the gospel has truly been restored. The Book of Mormon is true, the holy priesthood has been conferred by angels in these latter days, and the ordinances of the House of the Lord are valid in this life and for all eternities to come. The doctrines are simple, but expansive our view of the Plan of Salvation is at once panoramic and intricately detailed. As Philip said to Nathanael of old, "come and see" what good has come out of Nazareth, and out of Palmyra "come and see" why I, and nearly 14 million others of all walks of life, are Mormon.
The main purpose of the Church is to "invite all to come unto Christ" (D&C 20:59), to put it most succinctly. This grand overarching goal has three areas of labor, referred to as the "threefold mission of the church." In order of broadening horizons, they are: perfecting the saints (or members of the Church), proclaiming the gospel, and redeeming the dead. "For the perfecting of the saints ... till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man..." (Eph. 4:12-13) Perfecting the saints includes just about everything we do for each other as members of Christ's church, from serving in our wards and branches, to just being a familiar friendly face. I especially try to work on my home-teaching, which consists of a personal ministry to certain ward members assigned to me and a companion by our Elders Quorum president. Mainly this is accomplished by visiting them in their homes at least once a month to see how they are doing spiritually and temporally. Perfecting the saints also includes participating in ward-sponsored activities, and sharing beneficial insights in classes. It means attending to my own spiritual health through regular scripture study and prayer. Every time we build and lift and help each other develop our relationship with Christ, we are engaged in this first mission of the Church. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations..." (Matt. 28:19) Proclaiming the gospel means that we have an exciting message for the world--God has spoken to prophets once again, and has re-established His Church in its ancient fulness and purity!--and we are anxious for all to receive it. To this end, I served a mission in western Washington state during which time I shared, with all who bothered to listen, the message of the Gospel restored. Since my return I continue to share the gospel through my (hopefully) good Christian example, carrying a copy of the Book of Mormon in my car should the need arise, and participating in online forums, including this one. So consider yourself proclaimed to! :) "And he [Elijah] shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers..." (Mal. 4:6) Redeeming the dead involves identifying, and performing proxy ordinances for, those who may not have had a full and fair chance to accept them while in the flesh. This is one of the more unique aspects of Mormonism, but is not without Biblical precedent and support. A more detailed discussion of the doctrinal basis for this practice may be found elsewhere in the FAQ's. But as this section deals with my personal participation, I will simply say that I make my way to the temple at least once a week, on average, where of late my focus has been on "sealing" families--husbands to wives, and parents to children. It is a labor of love, offering to strangers long dead that which they surely crave most, even a restored connection to loved ones from whom death has severed them. In a broader sense, redeeming the dead also includes working on your own personal and family history for the sake of future generations. Which reminds me, my journal is overdue for an update. Hmmm.
There was a time on my mission when, in rapid succession, two really good contacts decided to cease their investigation of the Church, having received too much "anti-" information. Heartbroken, that Sunday I was reading the Book of Mormon as the Sacrament was being passed. I had opened the book at random to 3 Nephi 17, where the Savior is trying to call it a day and say good-bye. Speaking of other appointments He has with "lost tribes" of Israel, He offers this hopeful statement: "they are not lost unto the Father, for he knoweth whither he hath taken them" (v. 4). Despairing though I was of these my "lost" investigators, Jesus was speaking to me through the page. They are not lost, I know where they are and I'll take care of them. In the narrative, Jesus then looks into the eyes of the multitude and perceives their desire for Him to linger a little bit more with them. Moved with compassion, He bids them bring their sick, lame, withered, deaf, blind, and all the afflicted to Him, and He healed every one that was brought forth. Likewise, I felt like He was telling me to bring unto Him all the spiritually sick and blind and maimed that I could find, and He would show me the same miracles He had shown my brethren elsewhere in the mission. And so it came to pass. That is just one example. There are more. Perhaps the website will allow me to answer this question multiple times... (hint, hint)
There have been over one million Mormon missionaries called to serve since the Church was organized in 1830, and there are probably an equal number of reasons, for every missionary has his own. Some go because it is expected of them, a milepost of Mormon life. Some go because of the examples of fathers, mothers, or older siblings and cousins. Some go out of gratitude for what God has done for them. Some go to obey the commandment to "preach the gospel unto every nation." Some go because they are excited about the message of the Restoration. Some go because they are feel the need to warn the inhabitants of the earth to repent and prepare for the coming of the Lord. Some go because they know it will be a spiritual growth experience. Some go because they feel like there are people out there who are uniquely prepared to hear the gospel from their lips. I imagine that most missionaries (including myself) go for a combination of these reasons, as well as others that don't immediately come to mind.
To learn more about our own family origins. There is something empowering and fascinating about studying one's own roots. But beyond that, we trace family history so that we may identify our ancestors and perform sacred ordinances on their behalf in the temple, if it was not their privilege to receive them while living.
I am active in my ward, having served most recently as a clerk--basically helped the bishop in the processing of donations, taking notes in meetings, keeping records, etc. Though currently without a "calling" a specific church task, I support the ward by participating in activities and classes. I also try to do my "home teaching," bringing a personal ministry to the homes of those to whom I have been assigned. Furthermore, I assist in our stake's weekly "Smart Night" wherein high school and middle school students come for tutorial help.